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About the Department

In 2014 the Department of Agricultural, Food, and Resource Economics (DAFRE) celebrated its 100th anniversary.  Our teaching and research department was founded in 1914 as the farm management division within the Rutgers Department of Agronomy. In 1923, farm management left the agronomy department to become a freestanding Department of Agricultural Economics.  Its current name, adopted in 1999, reflects a research and teaching mission that extends beyond the department’s origins in production agriculture.

General Mission

The Department of Agricultural, Food and Resource Economics (DAFRE) was created in 1914. Since then, its mission has evolved as the needs of society have changed. The department's mission is to:

DAFRE supports society's need for economic analysis and business management in the areas of agriculture, food, resources, and the environment. Our world class teaching, research, and outreach improve businesses, communities, and the lives of people in New Jersey and beyond.

Our mission reflects and supports the missions of the Land-Grant university system, Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, School of Enviormental and Biological Science (SEBS) and the New Jersey Agricultural Experiment Station (NJAES).

The following goals emanate from our mission

1. To achieve scholarly excellence in economic research on emerging issues unique to a urban/suburban environment.

2. To be proactive and to achieve excellence by providing continual, strong, high quality support for stakeholders in analyzing, planning and facilitating adjustments to urbanization.

3. To provide effective, cutting edge undergraduate and graduate education programs in the areas of business economics, environmental and natural resource economics, and economics of the food system including agriculture and the food industry.

4. To foster team efforts including other institutions and stakeholders.

5. To provide a responsible work environment in which the individuality, worth and dignity of each member is respected and personal and professional development are encouraged.

Programmatic Area Missions and Goals

The Programmatic areas include

1. Research
2. Teaching - Undergraduate & The Graduate level
3. Outreach

Teaching and outreach build on research, and the resulting synergy energizes the pursuit of our broader departmental mission to: “Support society’s agricultural, agribusiness, food, environmental and natural resource needs for economic analysis through an integrated program of teaching, research and outreach activities designed to improve the quality of public and private decisions.”

Research Mission

DAFRE’s research mission is as follows:

To advance the frontiers of knowledge within the discipline of economics, and between economics and related disciplines, on current and emerging issues related to agricultural, food, agribusiness, environmental and natural resources multidisciplinary research that draws upon relevant expertise from the fields and upon an outreach program that elicits input from our clientele in the private and public sectors.

Major departmental efforts are directed toward addressing the challenges facing the agriculture, food industry, agricultural policy makers and public and private decision makers on issues related to natural resources and the environment in New Jersey and other urbanizing/suburbanizing regions in the world. The department will continue its frontier research into policy issues such as farmland assessment, sustainability of agriculture, farmland preservation, right-to-farm issues, quality-of-life effects of farming, the structure and performance of the key agriculture and food sectors, technology transfer, effectiveness of public and private research, irrigation financing, solid waste management, environmental quality, land use at the urban fringe, coalition building between agricultural and environmental interests, new use agriculture, other emerging farm products and crops, nutraceuticals, international agricultural development, costs of production, and regulations facing agriculture. Current and evolving research initiatives will emphasize the sustainability of agriculture and include such areas as the:
(i) economics of horticulture,
(ii) new use and value added agriculture,
(iii) economics of biotechnology,
(iv) economics of emerging food technologies,
(v) economics of nutraceuticals,
(vi) economics of biodiversity, and
(vii) linkages between agriculture, food and the pharmaceutical industry.


The research program builds on the New Jersey experience as a frontier state in issues related to rapidly changing agriculture, rapidly evolving food industry, high demands on natural resources and the environment and the urban environment. As a premier department in policy related research, the DAFRE seeks to provide leadership in multidisciplinary research by utilizing a problem-solving approach to address pressing issues in our areas of interest and expertise. The mission-related goals of the research program are as follows:

  • To advance the frontiers of knowledge within and between disciplines.
  • To develop and conduct research (in areas such as those noted above) that is responsive to the current and future needs of producers, industry, policy makers and society.
  • To establish multidisciplinary research teams that draw upon relevant expertise and provide balanced, visionary and synergistic insights and leadership.
  • To build upon the New Jersey experience with development at the interfaces of agriculture, agribusiness, food and environmental/natural resources.

Teaching Mission

The Department of Agricultural, Food and Resource Economics supports an undergraduate major entitled "Environmental & Business Economics" (373), an academic "minor" by the same name, and a graduate program leading to a Masters of Science degree in "Agricultural Economics." The undergraduate program and faculty also provide courses included in the college's requirements for graduation and/or for completion of other majors within the college.

Undergraduate Program Mission

The mission of the undergraduate program is to prepare students for citizenship and employment by fostering the ability to apply economic concepts and principles to the analysis of public and private sector issues and problems, and an understanding of the institutional factors underlying and influencing policy decisions with particular emphasis on the agriculture, food industry, and natural resources.

In pursuit of the mission of the undergraduate program, the curriculum and courses are periodically reviewed, revised, and designed to provide both for our students and for those in other curricula, with:

  • a foundation in the principles of economics that is relevant and up-to-date,
  • greater facility in the analytical and problem-solving processes through the adoption and application of information and communication technology, and
  • an improved capacity for critical reasoning and decision-making.

The "Information Age," advanced technologies, increased competition in the market place, globalization of the economy, and demands for accountability emanating from taxpayers, employers, and other stakeholders compel us to approach curriculum development and instruction in new and exciting ways. Increasingly, computers, software, and other emerging technologies are being integrated in courses to facilitate modeling, analysis and the decision-making processes. Distance learning opportunities and cooperative relationships with other institutions (such as those being developed through the Kellogg Food Systems Professions Initiative and the Mid-Atlantic Consortium) will facilitate educational development by allowing students and faculty alike to benefit from expertise and other resources for learning that would otherwise be unavailable.

The undergraduate curriculum's core courses and three options (i.e., Business Economics, Environmental and Natural Resource Economics, and Food Industry Economics) qualify students for a broad spectrum of positions in business and government, and/or for continued study at the graduate level. Alumni find positions in companies such as American Express, ADP, AT&T, G.E., ITT, Johnson and Johnson, Merck, Merrill Lynch, Commodity Exchange, Dean Witter, Stock Exchange, Farm Credit Corporation, Food Enterprises Inc., Frito-Lay Inc., M&M Mars Company, Nestle Food Corporation, Pepsi Cola Company, USDA, and Wakefern Company.

View the Learning Goals and Outcomes for the Environmental and Business Economics Program

Graduate Program Mission

The mission of the M.S. program is to deliver graduate education that enables students to apply economic concepts and quantitative techniques to current problems of the agricultural and food industries and those related to natural resources and the environment. Students develop research skills by conducting independent research guided by faculty whose expertise includes the interface between agriculture, food and the environment.

Specific mission-related goals of the graduate program are as follows:

  • To provide rigorous training in economic theory, econometrics and applied methods of economic research, while maintaining the flexibility to accommodate important techniques from other disciplines and adapt to a rapidly changing world of available tools.
  • To provide opportunities for verbal and written communications, and for collaboration in groups, that permits students to excel in team efforts comprising members from multiple disciplines.
  • To maximize the relevance of the curriculum by integrating classroom experience with practical applications.
  • To build enrollment, integrated with funded research programs, to the point where the program is self-sustaining.

(Read a PDF of our detailed Master's Degree Learning Goals and Assesment document.)

Outreach Mission

The outreach mission of the department includes the development, implementation, and evaluation of the impact of outreach programs to industry, policy makers and the general public that address economic and policy issues related to agriculture, food, agribusiness, environmental and natural resources in urbanizing areas.

Examples of the department's outreach efforts include our continued commitment to the proactive development of policy tools for agricultural development, the development of the Agricultural Economic Recovery and Development Initiative, the Farm Business Management and Marketing Training Program, coalition building and conflict resolution and public policy education initiatives, work in direct marketing, education programs and support provided farmers and other constituents in financial management and budgeting, and "Think-Tanks" involving departmental and university faculty in support of various agricultural and food industry enterprises in New Jersey. In the environmental area, examples of outreach efforts include collaborations and partnerships with environmental interests groups and organizations (e.g., New Jersey Recycling Forum, ANJR and Environmental Research Associates) as we continue to seek solutions to environmental policy problems. Mission related goals in the area of extension or outreach include the following:

  • To develop mechanisms and outreach initiatives, based upon applied research and stakeholder linkages, that are responsive to stakeholder needs.
  • To serve as a resource to clientele by conducting, evaluating/gathering, interpreting and disseminating high quality information from economic and policy analysis.
  • To serve in an advisory capacity to clientele.
  • To disseminate departmental generated research.
  • To organize, compile/coordinate expertise, deliver and evaluate educational programs to targeted clientele groups.